What should I have said?

Dear Friends,

I’m sure we’ve all been in a situation where we wish we’d said something better, something more Christian and Christ-centered, but couldn’t work out what to say and so said nothing at all.  Let me tell you of one such moment, in the hope that we might help one another to do better next time.

Helen and I were on holiday a couple of weeks ago and found ourselves at a fish and chip lunch in the south of France (yes, it’s true – well, somebody has to do it!).  Anyway, I was sitting next to a couple who I discovered attend a church there.  They’d already found out that I was a vicar, and that hadn’t put them off.  They then explained that they wouldn’t be attending church the following Sunday but that they’d been given a dispensation by their priest. 

What should I have said?  I didn’t want to undermine their desire to go to church, but I sensed something wasn’t quite right.  The thing is, I’m still not sure how I might have turned that conversation in the direction of Christ and the gospel.  I’d be interested to hear your suggestions.  You might discuss it over coffee after the service, and see if you can up with something.  Even now, a couple of weeks later, the best I can think of is to ask: “Why do you need a dispensation?” or, perhaps better, “Does Jesus think you need a dispensation?”

Yours warmly, in Christ,

Chris Hobbs (Senior Minister/Vicar)